Monday, 20 July 2015

Decision time, summer exhibitions, and prize-winning photographs

It's decision time.  Last year, the Garden History Society and the Association of Gardens Trusts voted in principle, to a merger of the two organisations. The final decision will be made during the AGMs of the two organisations at Newcastle University on Friday 24 July.

Members of a Transitional Committee have been working on the documentation needed before a decision can be made and the next step taken.  All the material can be viewed on a temporary website

Congratulations and a welcome are due in both organisations.  Congratulations to Dominic Cole (Chairman of the Garden History Society) for the OBE he received for services to garden conservation.  The big welcome goes to Caroline Ikin, the Association of Gardens Trusts' new Historic Landscape Officer.

You can find information about the counties in which Caroline is working at  At the same time, catch up on the latest material available at the Historic Landscape Project Resource Hub.  It's easy to access and there's a mass of information to help County Gardens Trusts with their conservation work - everything from recruiting volunteers to understanding and preparing conservation management plans.

Equally easy to access is the recently created County Gardens Trust email discussion group.  Thank you Linden and Caroline for giving members a simple way to converse and to share news.  59 members and growing…

copyright Liz Ware
There's an unusual exhibition to enjoy at the Garden Museum this summer - Gnome and Away: Secrets of the Collection.  It marks both an ending and a beginning in the life of the Museum. The builders move in on 2nd November and its transformation into an even more exciting exhibition and education space will begin. This latest exhibition gives us a taste of what is to come.

'Gnome and Away' will include over 100 artefacts never displayed before.  As Christopher Woodward writes in the latest Garden Museum Journal, 'It gives a first glimpse of the collection that will go on display in the five new galleries that will open to the public early in 2017'.

From William Robinson's cloak to a slide box belonging to nurseryman and plant hunter, Peter Veitch, there's plenty to intrigue any gardener - and might even entice a non-gardener.

Slightly further north, Compton Verney's summer 2015 exhibition 'The Arts and Craft House, is running until 13 September, 2015.  Part of the project is a recent commission by landscape designer Dan Pearson - to transform the West Lawn into a wild-flower meadow mown with a William Morris design.  It's a design that will develop and diversify in the years to come.

The commission is important for many reasons, not least because Dan is the first garden designer to have worked on the grounds at Compton Verney since Capability Brown.  Gary Webb, Compton Verney's Head of Landscape and Gardens, includes a video clip in his latest blog showing the way in which the clever design has been brought to life.

Is a prize-winning photograph the result of technical know-how? Or does it also depend on a deep understanding of the subject matter? Many County Gardens Trust members will certainly have the latter when it comes to Capability Brown and his landscapes.  As part of the tercentenary Festival, International Garden Photographer of the Year has joined forces with the National Trust to present a special award - Capability Brown Today.  Keen photographers, whether amateur or professional will find details here

Friday, 5 June 2015

Chelsea Fringe, healthy gardens, Capability Brown Festival and a new banknote

This year's Chelsea Fringe may be drawing to a close but there are still plenty of events to enjoy - and not just in London.   The fun started for Chelsea Fringe Henley almost three weeks ago with a gloriously sunny Floral Flotilla along the Thames.  If the forecast is to be believed, we'll finish with an equally sunny family and community day at Bosley Patch.              

As always, the start of the Chelsea Fringe coincided with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It was encouraging to see the link between gardening and health being explored even more this year.  Garden designer and member of the Landscape, Gardens and Health Network, Juliet Sargeant, did a brilliant job working with the teams at Gardeners World and at Chelsea to publicise the importance of nature and gardens for our health.

It's crucial for the future of our parks and green spaces that both policy makers and members of the public grasp the message. It's easy for those of us who are immersed in the gardening world to think that it's common sense, but there are still plenty of people who don't spend much time outside. It's far more difficult for them to appreciate the link. The more media coverage the subject gets, the better.

The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces now has over 5,000 Friends Groups registered - groups of people who want their local green spaces to be appreciated and protected.  The Federation's goal is to have a Friends Group for every one of our 27,000 urban green spaces. Do you know a park with a Friends Group who have yet to sign up?

Does Capability Brown deserve a place on the back of the new £20 note?  We have a few weeks left to consider - the deadline for nominations is 19th July.  There's a link on the Capability Brown Festival website and plenty of other Brown related news and events to catch up on too.

Masses of opportunities for being outside and making the most of the good weather. A few dates for your diary:

 6 - 7 June, Bristol's Clifton and Hotwells' 2nd Open Gardens Weekend

13-14 June, Open Garden Squares

24 July - 2 August, Love Parks Week

22 September, The AGT and Avon Gardens Trust Study Day, in conjunction with the GHS
'Lancelot 'Capability' Brown at Kings Weston: A Re-assessment Exploring his Legacy of Comfort and Elegance'